The shovels / work like oars
rowing the dead man / from this world
to the next.
Though Dermot Healy’s first collection, The Ballyconnell Colours, appeared in 1992 his first poems dated from twenty years earlier and were published and singled out for praise by Seamus Heaney.
In ‘The Off-button’ he writes, ‘the ordinary . . . I understand’ and his plainsong distilled ordinary experience — existence, resilience, moments of tenderness and absurdity.
For him the whole world was a neighbourhood and his engagement with it — its people, places, flora, fauna, weathers and oceans — prompted moments of epiphany. A true original, his lyric poems have moved, intrigued and entertained readers and listeners. Collected Poems is a harvest of almost half a century’s remarkable work — a book rich in imaginative reach and empathy.